Many people miss Big Ben and the British Museum after their visits to London. But do you ever wonder what little things an Anglophiliac Yank misses about London when she closes her eyes?
The soft clunking of hundreds of feet climbing the stairs out of the Tube.
The way all the city noise simply disappears the moment you step into the park or down a quiet side street.
The creak of old water pipes inside old walls.
Mature onion and aged cheddar crisps.
The compulsion to whisper inside older buildings, like you’d be disturbing the edifice itself to speak any louder.
Pushing the light switch down to turn the light on and up to turn it off again.
The soft beep of the Oyster Card reader followed by the forceful clunk of the turnstile doors.
The eery silence of a nearly empty Tube platform.
“Fuh heah or takeaway?”
The coo of four million pigeons.
Taking the lift to the first floor.
Clouds in a thousand different grays moving with haste along the sky, as if they’re late to something.
A solid line of red buses, nearly touching nose to bum.
The milky green-brown of the Thames churning and chopping its way down the river.
A building façade elegantly encrusted in hundreds of years of dirt and grime, lending a sense of something bigger than yourself.
Carefully avoiding puddles gently cradled in uneven cobblestone and brick alleyways, quietly reflecting the sky above.
Odd, small, square door handles that inevitably confuse every American.
“Next on BBC One...”
Red light. Red and yellow light. Green light. Cars pour into the roundabout like water.
Befuddlement at travel agencies that sell packages to Athens, Dubai, Moscow and Capetown as weekend destinations.
Topping up your mobile so you can ring your mate.
Four Bella Italias in a single block.
Half-gallons of milk.
Curiously inquiring what it is about a certain street performer that has caused his crowd to be four times bigger than the others.
The gradual increase and decrease in the volume of a busker as you pass him in an underground Tube walkway.
Emptying your wallet of coins and carefully counting them, determined that this time you won’t just give up and break yet another 20 pound note.
Yanking the handle of a bathroom light dangling on the end of the cord.
The squeak of the brakes on buses you can’t even see.
Catching yourself on a brightly painted rail as the Tube lurches forward.
The rhythmic chu-chunk of the Tube train on the tracks.
Simultaneously feeling a breeze and the sun on your face as you walk through the park.
Peeling off the round sticker on the back of a Pret sandwich.
Riding a crowded Tube escalator, holding on with your right hand, digging for your Oyster card with your left, feeling the escalator l-l-lurch just a little bit.
Picking up a random abandoned newspaper on an upholstered Tube seat.
Forcefully pushing down the odd little button toilet flusher.
That weighty Tube exhaust that hangs in the air. (Yes, I actually miss that smell.)
A right cuppa tea, absolutely anywhere you might want one.